Skip to main content

CEOs actively manage innovators' careers

At some companies, management and HR folks proudly say, "We have career structures and policies that are consistent company-wide." The problem is, the statement also means: "We cannot change our structures and policies." This is typical at companies with ordinary leadership teams. Innovations either do not happen or they are not sustainable.

In contrast, what happens at most leading companies in the West (and some in the East) is totally different. Senior management -- the CEO in particular -- has responsibilities associated with the innovator's career. One such responsibility is the placement of innovators. Often, they place innovators outside the regular organization structure. This increases the likelihood that the innovators will actually create new businesses.

JP Morgan Chase, for example, created what it calls "ascension plans" to chart potential career paths for future innovators. And the company did it in concert with the innovators themselves. CEO Jamie Dimon believes it is "foolish to think there's only one possible, ideal career path for our high-potential managers most likely to one day orchestrate large-scale innovations." If the right position does not exist for an innovator, Dimon or another executive team member creates it. "Our biggest sin would be to correctly identify future innovators, only to ignore them by letting them sit and stew in existing positions," Dimon told the authors of Finding and Grooming Breakthrough Innovators (Harvard Business Review, December 2008). He considers developing breakthrough innovators to be one of his key responsibilities, and one in which his board is highly interested.

How does your organization manage innovators?


Popular posts from this blog

Explorer mentality Vs conqueror mentality

A fixation on competitors and on beating them is evidence of what Amazon's Jeff Bezos calls a conqueror mentality. In contrast, people waking up in the morning thinking how to innovate for the customer -- and having intense fun innovating -- is evidence of an explorer mentality.

The explorer mentality resulted in Amazon allowing negative reviews of its products. Reacting to this, a book publisher objected, saying "You make money when you sell things." But Bezos thought, "We don't make money when we sell things; we make money when we help customers make purchase decisions." So explorer mentality also demands a willingness to be misunderstood for long periods of time.

During his 16 years as CEO, Bezos' Amazon has delivered shareholder returns of 12,266% (industry-adjusted), and the company's value has grown by $111 billion. More in HBR Jan-Feb 2013.

M&A perspective: IT staffing Vs IT consulting

This report is a simple analysis by HT Capital -- a boutique investment banking firm in New York. It basically makes the point that being a staffing company (Vs consulting company) does not provide adequate returns to most investors, especially from an M&A perspective.

Peter Rozsa, co-author of the report, is a Senior Managing Director at HT Capital. He was also my "classmate" at a Columbia Business School executive education program. I have Peter's permission to make the report available here.

Click to download PDF report.

Leading Change Vs. "Leading" Status Quo

Change and Status quo can be as far apart from each other as a butterfly is from a caterpillar ...

Or ... as an is from a K-Mart ... Or ... as a BMW is from a Hyundai ... Or ... as laying a runway is from paving a cow path ... Or ... as a solution is from a product ... Or ... as experience is from service ... Or ... as customer success is from customer satisfaction ... Or ... as a distinct brand-you is from a me-too employee ...

Change can be triggered by innovation. Change can happen in corporate culture. And so on. There is a leader "behind" every Change. If you consider the corporate world, people like Lou Gerstner, Michael Dell, and Jack Welch may come to mind. Actually, there are scores of other lesser-known and unknown leaders that make change happen in their organizations.

Here's my question: What are some differences between those who lead change and those who "lead" the Status quo? Oh yes, we know about the staggering percentage of Change i…